This time of year, designers have the red carpet in mind. And who can blame them, with all the attention the media lavishes on awards season? But Carolina Herrera knows there are many other occasions that aren't simulcast to millions worldwide, yet still call for the sort of polished, important clothes in which she specializes—take weddings, black-tie galas, or simply dinner at 8. Judging by the happy post-show murmurings of her front-row clients, there will be plenty of jeweled silk faille boleros and sheared-mink turtlenecks at Daniel come fall.

Herrera took her inspiration from such late-1950's icons as Claudia Cardinale in The Pink Panther and Jeanne Moreau in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. But whatever the back story, there was a modern ease to these clothes. A black-and-chocolate sheath came with whimsical sheered-mink sleeves, while skirtsuits, shown in red double-face wool, plaid, and a Prince of Wales check, had a softness that belied their inner structure. Crystal-studded cocktail dresses can look straight out of the vintage shop, but Herrera invigorated hers with unfussy, sexy cuts. Opaque tights lent an element of youth to a chiffon gown, whose hip-high slit might elsewhere have bordered on bad taste, but here looked fresh.

Similarly, only someone with Herrera's deft touch could pull off the bold patterns and daring color combinations that ran through the collection. It takes a savvy confidence to pair a violet corset boasting chocolate ribbon detailing with a red floral floor-length skirt. This season, Herrera is dining out on it.